March 1, 2024

What to look for in an apparel logistics services provider


Economic uncertainty, sustainability initiatives, and a crowded consumer marketplace are just a few of the challenges facing apparel manufacturers at the moment. To mitigate these challenges, apparel brands are increasingly reliant on nimble, flexible 3PL providers that specialize in apparel logistics. Ideally, these partners are not only equipped with the resources and capabilities to execute efficient distribution operations but also possess the agility to adapt to real-time changes. In this article, we’ll examine some of the ways that apparel and clothing 3PLs can support your operations, particularly in the Western US.


An agile 3PL can help you adapt to uncertainty

apparel-logistics-services-135624911-final-revIn McKinsey’s The State of Fashion 2024 report, “the most prominent sentiment among fashion industry leaders is uncertainty, reflecting the prospect of subdued economic growth, persistent inflation, and weak consumer confidence.”

This uncertainty extends to the supply chain as well, making it difficult for consumer brands to plan and run efficient distribution operations. The help they need can come from 3PL partners agile enough to adapt to changes in real-time – and still run highly efficient product distribution operations.

An agile 3PL has both the resources to get the job done and the ability to move fast. Most 3PLs can do one or the other, but only mid-sized 3PLs can truly do both. This means being agile enough to adapt to changes in real-time while still running highly efficient product distribution operations.

It also means the power to say ”yes.”

  • Marketing wants to know if you can double order throughput to support a week-long summer promotion. YES.
  • Purchasing asks if you can find 10,000 square feet of space to support a short-term inventory build-up. YES.


Additional apparel logistics challenges on the West Coast

In addition to uncertainty, apparel manufacturers looking for a 3PL partner on the West Coast will need a provider that can help address the following pressing challenges.

1. The capacity to distribute products quickly. In the apparel industry, speed is everything. What’s trendy today might be passé a few months (or even weeks) from now. You need a 3PL provider that can provide the capacity you need when you need it in order to get your products to consumers without delay. On the warehousing side, this means partnering with a 3PL that can scale your space up or down to match your sales volumes. On the transportation side, this means partnering with an asset-based provider for drayage and final delivery services that can allocate the trucks and chassis your operations require. This drayage and final-mile partnership is especially important with the likely import challenges ahead in 2024 (e.g., potential East Coast port disruption and its impact on all ports nationwide). And, if you’re importing products into the US from Asia, you can speed distribution even further by partnering with a West Coast 3PL provider that regularly operates at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach.

2. The ability to take advantage of close proximity to Mexico. The proximity to Mexico significantly impacts apparel logistics on the West Coast, offering unique advantages such as cost-effective labor for nearshoring production activities. This geographical closeness also allows for faster turnaround times for manufacturing and distribution, and facilitates easier cross-border trade – providing access to both markets and leveraging Mexico’s trade agreements. Manufacturers looking to take advantage of all that Mexico has to offer will want to partner with a 3PL with a location(s) close to the border and experience handling raw materials and finished product coming in and out of Mexico.

3. An increased focus on sustainability. The apparel industry is continuing to focus on green operations and sustainability in order to reduce its effects on the environment. Such initiatives are right at home on the US West Coast, particularly in the Golden State where laws and regulations often mirror those of the EU instead of the US. The good news here is that any reputable logistics partner you work with inside of California will likely be compliant with the most stringent environmental regulations in the US (e.g., recent changes to California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations) and thus fall in line with your company’s own green logistics initiatives.

4. The ability to comply with California legislation like SB707. Withdrawn from the 2023 legislative docket but likely to return in 2024, the state’s Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023 (also known as California SB707) is a bill directed squarely at apparel logistics operations. “The proposed bill aims to establish an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programme [sic] for apparel, textiles, and textile articles, thereby requiring apparel producers to take responsibility for the collection and recycling of their products.” If and when the bill emerges again, apparel manufacturers in the state will need a true California apparel logistics expert to help navigate the ramifications and comply with legislation.

5. Integrated service capabilities. Some 3PL providers can integrate multiple servicesto create a faster, seamless product flow – from the port to the store shelf or end consumer. For example, let’s say you have a back-ordered product sitting on an inbound container from Vietnam. An integrated 3PL provider can help identify the hot container, arrange immediate pick up with its own drayage fleet, bring it back to its own warehouse for immediate unloading and processing, and then handle direct delivery to area retailers using its own drivers and trucks. That response is much tougher if you’re piecing together the solution with different providers. With one logistics partner, communication is fast and streamlined, data moves on a single system and status monitoring is real-time.


Turn to Weber Logistics to enhance your brand image

In the apparel industry, your brand is everything. The smartest brands understand that branding extends well beyond the look and quality of the clothing itself, it applies to the supply chain as well. Whomever you choose to handle key legs of your supply chain – at the port, in the warehouse, and over the road – thus becomes a steward of your brand.

Agile 3PLs like Weber Logistics understand this and can provide you with a level of customization (e.g., in everything from the services offered to the packaging your customers receive) designed to enhance the experience of your customers and their emotional connection to your brand. Contact Weber today to learn how we can support your operations now and in the future.

New call-to-action



Source link

In this article:
Share on social media: